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Building My First HTPC

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hello All - After having a Window 7 Media Center Computer and 2-Xbox 360's as extenders for 4 years now I have finally decided to upgrade my PC to an HTPC in my main entertainment room.

My computer is an old Dell Inspiron 530 with an Intel dual core 2.2 GHz processor, 4 GB RAM, running Windows 7-32 bit.

Currently that room consists of my 42" Panasonic Viera Plasma, Xbox 360 HDMI out to the TV and optical out to my 5.1 receiver.

I have converted my massive DVD collection to .mpg files using AnyDVD/VideoRedo TV Plus, most with 5.1 audio.

On my Win7 MC computer I record HD television throught my set top box using the Hauppauge HDPVR1212.

Once I set up my HTPC I may buy a blu-ray player and dabble with that.

My questions are these:

1) I need to purchase a suitable video card with HDMI out for this system. Currently the motherboard has integrated video out and the system uses about 50-80% resources when I am watching HDTV from my Hauppauge capture device. I can't have this when running as an HTPC because the Hauppauge HDPVR doesn't "like it" when the system is taxed like that. It's ok currently because only 10-20% resources are used when recording / sending out to Xbox 360 extender only. So I need a card that will handle this instead of the computer's CPU handling it. From what I've read on this forum I'm thinking an HD6450 card would handle this gracefully. When I look online I find different manufacturers for this model number. Which one do I want? Sapphire, Radeon, etc.?!?

Here's one that I found:

http://ca.buy.com/PR/Product.aspx?sku=222810919

2) I also have a question about Dolby Digital 5.1 Currently I have an optical cable going to my receiver for this. In this new setup can I just connect the HDMI out from my computer to the receiver HMDI IN and then the HDMI video out from my receiver to the TV? I think I'll still get Dolby Digital 5.1 this way?

3) One final question. With Windows Media Center I have some .mkv's I've made with burned in subs and Dolby Digital 5.1 passthrough. They play fine on the Xbox 360 extender but I get no audio when watching on my PC. I have read on this forum that I can convert them with DVRMS toolbox, which I have done, but these don't play. I found that I had to use "mencode" which as far as I can tell recoded them into MPEG DVRMS files. I found that by running these through VideoRedo TV Suite that they now play, but with some quality loss. Is there a more direct approach to this? Perhaps a CODEC pack that will play these .mkv's with Dolby Digital 5.1? I currently have Divx drivers installed which allows these to be played properly when extended to the Xbox 360.

Cheers and thanks for your time,
Kato
Edited by KatoKato - 1/20/13 at 6:13am
post #2 of 5
1. I have two of the exact video cards that you linked to above. They will serve you well. Mine are the Raedon variants that I picked up at Newegg several months ago.

2. Not sure if you'll get Dolby. As long as you're passing Dolby Digital out and the reciever can pick it up over the HDMI cable, you should be good. A little experimentation should reveal what's going on one way or the other.

3. Getting mkv files to play through windows media center is possible, but there are some things you'll need to do first. The steps I followed are located at http://www.hack7mc.com/2009/01/playing-mkvs-in-media-center.html.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
1. Ok .... so the diamond card is a go.

2. I guess what I'd like to know is if I buy the above card and play one of my MPEG movies with Windows Media Center will the HDMI output carry the Dolby Digital 5.1 signal?

If it does ... great... then I'll have to see if my receiver will take it.

If the receiver does not take it will I need an audio card with say optical out, as I have with my current setup and would WMC output the Dolby 5.1 signal through it?

Also ---- just checked and my TV has an optical audio out, which I assume if the HDMI cable carries the 5.1 signal that I could go from the TV back to receiver and that would work.

I have to be careful here because my motherboard has 2-PCI slots, 1-PCIe X1, and 1-PCIe X 16 slots. All are available at present.

3. Thanks for the link. I'll try it.
Edited by KatoKato - 1/20/13 at 8:07am
post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by KatoKato View Post


I guess what I'd like to know is if I buy the above card and play one of my MPEG movies with Windows Media Center will the HDMI output carry the Dolby Digital 5.1 signal?

I believe it will. your 5.1 signal should travel across the HDMI bus as long as you have pass thru enabled on the HTPC, and of course have a receiver that decodes the 5.1 signal.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KatoKato View Post

If the receiver does not take it will I need an audio card with say optical out, as I have with my current setup and would WMC output the Dolby 5.1 signal through it?

That would be the easiest way to accomplish your goal. I used to use an HT Omega Striker 7.1 for that purpose (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829271001), but as you can see, it's discontinued. There are probably lots of similar cards still out there. I currently send Video and Audio over HDMI from my HTPC to my TV. I use the TV speakers for everyday viewing, but I have a Bose Cinemate system connected to the TV via optical for better sound should I want it. The Cinemate is 2.1 only though, so no need to pull 5.1.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KatoKato View Post

Also ---- just checked and my TV has an optical audio out, which I assume if the HDMI cable carries the 5.1 signal that I could go from the TV back to receiver and that would work.

More than one way to get to Cleveland. Try it and see if it works.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KatoKato View Post

I have to be careful here because my motherboard has 2-PCI slots, 1-PCIe X1, and 1-PCIe X 16 slots. All are available at present.

Nice to have that much flexibility. Like I said.. you need only two things: a way of delivering 5.1 to the TV and a way of decoding the signal appropriately. How the signal arrives is a matter of cost and convenience.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies ajkrishock...

I ordered the video card (Diamond HD6450) yesterday and am awaiting its arrival.

Then the testing will begin. Very exciting.

Thanks for the help.

Kato
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